TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 10th April 2016
“I knew a man who used to say,
Not once but twenty times a day,
That in the turmoil and the strife
(His very words) of Public Life
The thing of ultimate effect
Was Character – not Intellect.
He therefore was at strenuous pains
To atrophy his puny brains
And registered success in this
Beyond the dreams of avarice,
Till, when he had at last become
Blind, paralytic, deaf and dumb
Insensible and cretinous,
He was admitted ONE OF US.
They therefore, (meaning Them by ‘They’)
His colleagues of the N.C.A.,
The T.U.C., the I.L.P.,
Appointed him triumphantly
To bleed the taxes of a clear
200,000 Francs a year
(Swiss), as the necessary man
For Conferences at Lausanne,
Geneva ,Basle, Locarno, Berne:
A salary which he will earn,
Yes –EARN I say- until he Pops,
Croaks, passes in his checks and Stops:-
When he will be remembered for
A week, a month, or even more.
Hilaire Belloc – writer & poet – 1870 – 1850
It is so easy to be wise after the event. However, though ‘Rule the World’ never won a chase prior to yesterday’s Grand National, his form as a hurdler and his second in the Irish Grand National last year probably made his odds of 40/1 to 33/1 look quite generous in hindsight. Mouse Morris is no mug training chasers to go over National fences ever since ‘Last of the Brownies’ made bold showings in the late ‘80s. So pleased for ‘Mouse’ and his family, though it is tiny compensation for the loss of their beloved son last year. Though not a first choice to my dinner table on a Saturday night, I salute Michael O’Leary and Gigginstown Stud, who deserve this success for their incredible commitment to National Hunt racing.
Panama and Mossack Fonseca! Well gracious me! That news has put the cat amongst the pigeons, but the level of misinformation and speculation has been both disgraceful and hysterical. First and foremost the global taxation system is a farce and until it is properly dealt with, tax avoidance schemes will rule OK!
For the avoidance of doubt PM Cameron, as far as I can see, has not broken any rules, avoided tax illegally and frankly he appears to have behaved with the utmost financial probity. What he has failed to do was to be immediately transparent and step up to the plate and explain his situation. He was badly advised. However he probably wanted to spare his father’s memory and his mother any embarrassment. The media, consequently, is not in a forgiving frame of mind. Frankly, without wishing to be unnecessarily rude, the state of the PM’s finances, provided they are legal, is none of anyone’s damn business!
Finally creating wealth is not a dirty pastime. Wealth creates jobs. I cannot understand why so many of the so-called intelligentsia do not comprehend this fact, though I do conceded that since 2008, the rich have become richer and the needy more needy; again unacceptable. However some good that may have come out of this unsavoury episode, At last the world’s despots and the many ‘spivs and vagabonds’ have been exposed for what they are! Let’s turn our guns on them rather than blast off, shooting from the hip at easy vulnerable targets!
Last week, investors’ resolve was severely tested. There was hardly a plethora of corporate results for punters to get their teeth into, as the market gears up for the floodgates for the 2nd quarter US Earnings season to open. These results get under way this coming week and next, starting with the banks and it may be folly to expect stellar efforts, as new capital requirements are bordering on penury. Though crude oil bounced back a smidgen last week, punters remain very nervous as to the quality of many of these forthcoming earnings. Equities have reached the cross roads. In recent weeks the the heinous losses inflicted on investors in January and early February have more or less been recouped. However with doubts about global growth, ponderous behaviour by Yellen and her cohorts at the FED over interest rate hikes, banks’ exposure to the energy sector and earnings unlikely to be fruitful, it is hard to know where the gravy will come from.
Last week trading conditions remained very volatile, with the S&P 500 losing 1.49%, the FTSE 100 gaining 0.95%, European stocks surrendering an average of 0.19% and the NIKKEI, which continues to suffer from a very strong Yen easing by 2.12%. In London M&S grabbed many of the main headlines. Its share price improved towards the end of the week with new CEO Steve Rowe being given the benefit of the doubt. Sadly I am not included amongst his supporters and I am equally confident he will get over it. M&S need someone who understands fashion. When high street share is surrendered it is very hard to reclaim it. Mining stocks regained some poise as did energy and oil stocks.
There were some interesting nuggets of news. Dame Martha Lane-Fox joined the board of Twitter. There seems to be general approval for Marriott to bed down with Starwood Hotels. Vivendi look as though it will acquire pay-TV rights from Mediaset. Glencore, with a view to cutting further debt, has agreed in principle to sell 40% of its agricultural operation to Canada Pension Plan for $2.5 billion. Dominic Chappell, the lead purchaser of BHS for £1 from Sir Philip Green, would appear to have become embroiled in a Panama tax planning coup. More about that later in the week – no doubt. JD Sports which posts numbers on Thursday looks as though it might flip-flop with Sports Direct as the largest sports good company in the UK. There is news from the front that Tesco may not only return to the black when it posts its numbers on Wednesday – with profits of £447 million, though sales may have fallen by 20% to $55.3 billion – but like-for-like sales may have risen 0.8% in the 3 month trading period to the end of February. Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of Liberty House may be wobbling on his intention to buy Tata’s steel operations in South Wales. There are signs of toys being thrown out of the pram as negotiations with the government may be stalling. Finally on Friday the Chancellor, with Mark Carney’s backing announced that Sam Woods, who was previously in charge of the regulation of insurance, would be appointed head of Prudential Banking Authority, replacing Andrew Bailey, who is now head of the FCA. Mr Woods will automatically become a deputy Governor of Bank of England.
I offer a couple of thought provoking ideas as David Cameron’s current political predicament to persuade UK voters to remain in the EU looks precarious and just prior to President Obama’s forthcoming visit to the UK. Mr Obama is also likely to attempt us to remain in this very unstable political union –
‘US officials trying to rebuild and stabilize post-war Europe worked from the assumption that it required rapid unification, perhaps leading to a United States of Europe. The encouragement of European unification, one of the most consistent components of Harry S. Truman’s foreign policy, was even more strongly emphasized under his successor General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Moreover, under both Truman and Eisenhower, US policymakers conceived of European unification not only as an important end in itself, but also as a way to solve the German problem.’
UK companies posting results – Monday – VEDANTA RESOURCES, Tuesday – ASOS, MICHAEL PAGE (TS), EKF DIAGNOSTICS, Wednesday – TESCO, WH SMITH, HALFORDS (TS), JUPITER FUND MANAGEMENT, WS ATKINS, FRESNILLIO, ROBERT WALTERS, MIDATECH, Thursday – BURBERRY, UNILEVER, DEBENHAMS, JD SPORTS, PZ CUSSONS, PERSIMMON (TS), HAYS (TS), POUNDLAND (TS), MOTHERCARE (TS), Friday – MAN GROUP
US companies posting interim results – Monday – ALCOA, Tuesday – CSX GROUP, Wednesday – JP MORGAN CHASE, Thursday – BANK OF AMERICA MERRILL LYNCH, WELLS FARGO, BLACKROCK, Friday – CITIGROUP
Economic Data – Monday – US BUDGET BALANCE, Tuesday – UK CPI, PPI RPI, Wednesday – BOE CREDIT, Thursday – UK MPC MEETING, Friday – UK CONSTRUCTION OUTPUT and TRADE BALANCE
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